Growing up in South Carolina, I was lucky to have some incredible coastal environments to explore. This led me to pursue professional surfing, which resulted in countless hours in the water exploring the world’s most beautiful coastlines. Surfing has been my life since I was born. My father owns a surf shop and makes surfboards and my brother taught me everything I know. Surfing has given me some amazing opportunities and I am incredibly grateful for the sponsors and family members who give me unwavering support. I’ve been able to make so many friends, learn life lessons I wouldn’t have learned doing anything else, and travel to countless incredible destinations.
Recently, wherever my travels take me, there is one thing that always ends up in my surfboard bag: a fly rod. When I travel around the world to compete in surfing competitions, I bring my fly rod almost everywhere I go. Whether I’m in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, or just along the east coast of the US, I am always on the lookout for a spot to escape with my fly rod.
Bringing a fly rod with me wasn’t always common practice. I recently discovered fly fishing down in Florida with some of my good buddies! We have always thrown conventional, but decided it was time to make our life even more complicated. After countless casts stuck in the mangroves, missing hook sets, and getting my fly line stuck on anything it can find, I am finally confident enough to try my hand in any fishery I find myself in.
Most of my surfing trips are in tropical places, so odds are I’ll be fishing off the beach or on a reef flat. I find myself targeting anything from bonefish to big tarpon in the surf! When it comes to the gear I travel with, I usually just bring my Redington Predator 8wt and the Grande Reel 7/8/9 with 8wt flats line. I have found this setup gives me the best opportunity to travel with only one setup and be able to handle most of the fish I find myself casting to.
It was a challenge to juggle both activities, but I loved the sense of excitement and adventure that came from combining my two passions. I believe it’s the feeling of starting from scratch and learning new things that have me so hooked! It has a sense of connection to the natural world that is difficult to put into words, but that fills me with a deep sense of satisfaction and joy.
Surfing has become muscle memory and I’m hoping to find the best waves possible. When I am out surfing, instead of looking for the next wave I’m trying to see a big tarpon roll, or instead of looking on a map for a good surf break, I’m looking for a good flat or small canal. Before I go to each place I’m always looking for fishing reports nearby and any hints I can get to try and catch a fish in the area I’m visiting. Luckily, I have found that a large portion of my surfing research applies to my fishing research. This is where I really nerd out.
Nerding Out on Wind and Tides
Understanding the winds and tides can make the difference between a great surf session and a frustrating one. Wind can either create favorable or unfavorable conditions for surfing, depending on the direction and strength of the wind. Onshore winds can create choppy and uneven waves, while offshore winds can groom and organize waves. Surfers also need to pay attention to the tides, which can impact the size, shape, and speed of the waves. A high tide can create larger and more powerful waves, while a low tide can cause waves to break closer to shore and create a shallow and frustrating wave.
Similarly, for fly fishing, understanding the winds and tides is very important. The wind can affect the casting and accuracy of the fly, making it difficult to get the fly to the desired location. Strong winds can also create ripples on the surface of the water so you can’t see fish.
Understanding the tides is also important as it affects the movement and feeding patterns of the fish. Certain fish may be in one spot at certain times of the tide, such as during a rising or falling tide, and this information can help me choose the best time and location for fishing.
A lot of people look at my job as a surfer, and they only see the good side. But what people don’t see is that at the end of the day, it’s still a job and there will always be speed bumps. There’s a lot of stress in this game of surfing, whether it’s competing or traveling around the world and getting completely skunked, trying to keep your sponsors happy, etc. All of that can take a toll on you mentally and physically. And that’s where my love for fly fishing comes in. All that stress goes away. When you’re staring at a tailing redfish with a fly rod in your hand all your other problems go out the door. I think that’s why I gravitate towards it, it’s my escape from my surfing bubble.
If you would like to dial in your own saltwater travel set up, make sure to check them out from Redington!
Cam Richards is a professional surfer and Redington ambassador traveling across the world finding ways to connect these two passions. Follow along with his adventures on his Instagram HERE.
All photos are from Layne Stratton.